Branches of astrology
* Chinese * Decumbiture * Electional * Financial * Hellenistic * Horary * Locational * Psychological * Meteorological * Hindu
The planets in astrology
* Astrological organizations
* v * t * e
Astrological beliefs in correspondences between celestial observations and terrestrial events have influenced various aspects of human history, including world-views, language and many elements of social culture .
Among Indo-European peoples, astrology has been dated to the 3rd millennium BC , with roots in calendrical systems used to predict seasonal shifts and to interpret celestial cycles as signs of divine communications. Until the 17th century, astrology was considered a scholarly tradition, and it helped drive the development of astronomy . It was commonly accepted in political and cultural circles, and some of its concepts were used in other traditional studies, such as alchemy , meteorology and medicine . By the end of the 17th century, emerging scientific concepts in astronomy, such as heliocentrism , were irrevocably undermining the theoretical basis of astrology, which subsequently lost its academic standing.
In the 20th century, astrology gained broader consumer popularity through the influence of regular mass media products, such as newspaper horoscopes.
* 1 Early origins
* 2 Ancient world
* 4 Greece and Rome
* 5 Islamic world
* 6 Medieval and
Astrology, in its broadest sense, is the search for human meaning in the sky; it seeks to understand general and specific human behavior through the influence of planets and other celestial objects. It has been argued that astrology began as a study as soon as human beings made conscious attempts to measure, record, and predict seasonal changes by reference to astronomical cycles.
Early evidence of such practices appears as markings on bones and cave walls, which show that lunar cycles were being noted as early as 25,000 years ago; the first step towards recording the Moon’s influence upon tides and rivers, and towards organizing a communal calendar. With the Neolithic agricultural revolution new needs were also met by increasing knowledge of constellations, whose appearances in the night-time sky change with the seasons, allowing the rising of particular star-groups to herald annual floods or seasonal activities. By the 3rd millennium BC, widespread civilisations had developed sophisticated awareness of celestial cycles, and are believed to have consciously oriented their temples to create alignment with the heliacal risings of the stars.
There is scattered evidence to suggest that the oldest known
astrological references are copies of texts made during this period,
Detail of the Ishtar Gate in
BABYLONIAN ASTROLOGY was the first organized system of astrology, arising in the 2nd millennium BC. There is speculation that astrology of some form appeared in the Sumerian period in the 3rd millennium BC, but the isolated references to ancient celestial omens dated to this period are not considered sufficient evidence to demonstrate an integrated theory of astrology. The history of scholarly celestial divination is therefore generally reported to begin with late Old Babylonian texts (c. 1800 BC), continuing through the Middle Babylonian and Middle Assyrian periods (c. 1200 BC).
By the 16th century BC the extensive employment of omen-based astrology can be evidenced in the compilation of a comprehensive reference work known as _ Enuma Anu Enlil _. Its contents consisted of 70 cuneiform tablets comprising 7,000 celestial omens. Texts from this time also refer to an oral tradition - the origin and content of which can only be speculated upon. At this time Babylonian astrology was solely mundane , concerned with the prediction of weather and political matters, and prior to the 7th century BC the practitioners' understanding of astronomy was fairly rudimentary. Astrological symbols likely represented seasonal tasks, and were used as a yearly almanac of listed activities to remind a community to do things appropriate to the season or weather (such as symbols representing times for harvesting, gathering shell-fish, fishing by net or line, sowing crops, collecting or managing water reserves, hunting, and seasonal tasks critical in ensuring the survival of children and young animals for the larger group). By the 4th century, their mathematical methods had progressed enough to calculate future planetary positions with reasonable accuracy, at which point extensive ephemerides began to appear.
Babylonian astrology developed within the context of divination. A collection of 32 tablets with inscribed liver models, dating from about 1875 BC, are the oldest known detailed texts of Babylonian divination, and these demonstrate the same interpretational format as that employed in celestial omen analysis. Blemishes and marks found on the liver of the sacrificial animal were interpreted as symbolic signs which presented messages from the gods to the king.
The gods were also believed to present themselves in the celestial images of the planets or stars with whom they were associated. Evil celestial omens attached to any particular planet were therefore seen as indications of dissatisfaction or disturbance of the god that planet represented. Such indications were met with attempts to appease the god and find manageable ways by which the god’s expression could be realised without significant harm to the king and his nation. An astronomical report to the king Esarhaddon concerning a lunar eclipse of January 673 BC shows how the ritualistic use of substitute kings, or substitute events, combined an unquestioning belief in magic and omens with a purely mechanical view that the astrological event must have some kind of correlate within the natural world:
... In the beginning of the year a flood will come and break the dikes. When the Moon has made the eclipse, the king, my lord, should write to me. As a substitute for the king, I will cut through a dike, here in Babylonia, in the middle of the night. No one will know about it.
Ulla Koch-Westenholz, in her 1995 book _Mesopotamian Astrology_, argues that this ambivalence between a theistic and mechanic worldview defines the Babylonian concept of celestial divination as one which, despite its heavy reliance on magic, remains free of implications of targeted punishment with the purpose of revenge, and so “shares some of the defining traits of modern science: it is objective and value-free, it operates according to known rules, and its data are considered universally valid and can be looked up in written tabulations”. Koch-Westenholz also establishes the most important distinction between ancient Babylonian astrology and other divinatory disciplines as being that the former was originally exclusively concerned with mundane astrology , being geographically oriented and specifically applied to countries cities and nations, and almost wholly concerned with the welfare of the state and the king as the governing head of the nation. Mundane astrology is therefore known to be one of the oldest branches of astrology. It was only with the gradual emergence of horoscopic astrology , from the 6th century BC, that astrology developed the techniques and practice of natal astrology .
In 525 BC Egypt was conquered by the Persians so there is likely to
have been some Mesopotamian influence on Egyptian astrology. Arguing
in favour of this, historian Tamsyn Barton gives an example of what
appears to be Mesopotamian influence on the Egyptian zodiac , which
shared two signs – the Balance and the Scorpion, as evidenced in the
After the occupation by
Alexander the Great
The decans were a system of time measurement according to the
constellations. They were led by the constellation Sothis or Sirius.
The risings of the decans in the night were used to divide the night
into ‘hours’. The rising of a constellation just before sunrise
(its heliacal rising) was considered the last hour of the night. Over
the course of the year, each constellation rose just before sunrise
for ten days. When they became part of the astrology of the
Hellenistic Age, each decan was associated with ten degrees of the
zodiac. Texts from the 2nd century BC list predictions relating to the
positions of planets in zodiac signs at the time of the rising of
certain decans, particularly Sothis. The earliest
Particularly important in the development of horoscopic astrology was
the astrologer and astronomer Ptolemy , who lived in
According to Firmicus Maternus (4th century), the system of horoscopic astrology was given early on to an Egyptian pharaoh named Nechepso and his priest Petosiris . The Hermetic texts were also put together during this period and Clement of Alexandria , writing in the Roman era , demonstrates the degree to which astrologers were expected to have knowledge of the texts in his description of Egyptian sacred rites:
This is principally shown by their sacred ceremonial. For first advances the Singer, bearing some one of the symbols of music. For they say that he must learn two of the books of Hermes, the one of which contains the hymns of the gods, the second the regulations for the king's life. And after the Singer advances the Astrologer, with a horologe in his hand, and a palm, the symbols of astrology. He must have the astrological books of Hermes, which are four in number, always in his mouth.
GREECE AND ROME
The conquest of
As with much else, Greek influence played a crucial role in the
transmission of astrological theory to Rome . However, our earliest
references to demonstrate its arrival in Rome reveal its initial
influence upon the lower orders of society, and display concern about
uncritical recourse to the ideas of Babylonian 'star-gazers'. Among
the Greeks and Romans ,
The first definite reference to astrology comes from the work of the orator Cato , who in 160 BC composed a treatise warning farm overseers against consulting with Chaldeans. The 2nd-century Roman poet Juvenal , in his satirical attack on the habits of Roman women, also complains about the pervasive influence of Chaldeans, despite their lowly social status, saying "Still more trusted are the Chaldaeans; every word uttered by the astrologer they will believe has come from Hammon\'s fountain, ... nowadays no astrologer has credit unless he has been imprisoned in some distant camp, with chains clanking on either arm".
One of the first astrologers to bring Hermetic astrology to Rome was
Thrasyllus , who, in the first century CE, acted as the astrologer for
Even though some use of astrology by the emperors appears to have
happened, there was also a prohibition on astrology to a certain
extent as well. In the 1st century CE,
Publius Rufus Anteius was
accused of the crime of funding the banished astrologer
Pammenes , and
requesting his own horoscope and that of then emperor
NATIVE NAME Abū Maʿshar, Jaʿfar ibn Muḥammad al-Balkhī
BORN c. 787 Balkh , Khurasan
Amongst the important names of Arabic astrologers, one of the most
influential was Albumasur , whose work _Introductorium in Astronomiam_
later became a popular treatise in medieval Europe. Another was the
Persian mathematician, astronomer, astrologer and geographer Al
Khwarizmi . The Arabs greatly increased the knowledge of astronomy,
and many of the star names that are commonly known today, such as
During the advance of Islamic science some of the practices of astrology were refuted on theological grounds by astronomers such as Al-Farabi (Alpharabius), Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen) and Avicenna . Their criticisms argued that the methods of astrologers were conjectural rather than empirical , and conflicted with orthodox religious views of Islamic scholars through the suggestion that the Will of God can be precisely known and predicted in advance. Such refutations mainly concerned \'judicial branches\' (such as horary astrology ), rather than the more 'natural branches' such as medical and meteorological astrology, these being seen as part of the natural sciences of the time.
For example, Avicenna’s 'Refutation against astrology' _Resāla fī ebṭāl aḥkām al-nojūm_, argues against the practice of astrology while supporting the principle of planets acting as the agents of divine causation which express God's absolute power over creation. Avicenna considered that the movement of the planets influenced life on earth in a deterministic way, but argued against the capability of determining the exact influence of the stars. In essence, Avicenna did not refute the essential dogma of astrology, but denied our ability to understand it to the extent that precise and fatalistic predictions could be made from it.
MEDIEVAL AND RENAISSANCE EUROPE
Whilst astrology in the East flourished following the break up of the
Roman world, with Indian, Persian and Islamic influences coming
together and undergoing intellectual review through an active
investment in translation projects,
Western astrology in the same
period had become “fragmented and unsophisticated ... partly due to
the loss of Greek scientific astronomy and partly due to condemnations
by the Church.” Translations of Arabic works into
By the 13th century astrology had become a part of everyday medical
practice in Europe. Doctors combined Galenic medicine (inherited from
the Greek physiologist
Influential works of the 13th century include those of the British
Johannes de Sacrobosco (c. 1195–1256) and the Italian
Guido Bonatti from
In medieval Europe , a university education was divided into seven
distinct areas, each represented by a particular planet and known as
the seven liberal arts .
Medieval writers used astrological symbolism in their literary
themes. For example, Dante's _Divine Comedy_ builds varied references
to planetary associations within his described architecture of
Chaucer's astrological passages are particularly frequent and
knowledge of astrological basics is often assumed through his work. He
knew enough of his period's astrology and astronomy to write a
Treatise on the Astrolabe _ for his son. He pinpoints the early
spring season of the
One of the earliest English astrologers to leave details of his practice was Richard Trewythian (b. 1393). His notebook demonstrates that he had a wide range of clients, from all walks of life, and indicates that engagement with astrology in 15th-century England was not confined to those within learned, theological or political circles.
During the Renaissance, court astrologers would complement their use
of horoscopes with astronomical observations and discoveries. Many
individuals now credited with having overturned the old astrological
order, such as
At the end of the
The earliest use of the term _jyotiṣa_ is in the sense of a Vedanga
, an auxiliary discipline of Vedic religion . The only work of this
class to have survived is the _
The documented history of
Jyotish in the subsequent newer sense of
modern horoscopic astrology is associated with the interaction of
Hellenistic cultures in the
Indian astronomy and astrology developed together. The earliest
treatise on jyotish, the
Bhrigu Samhita , dates from the Vedic era.
The sage Bhrigu is one of the Saptarshi, the seven sages who assisted
in the creation of the universe. Written on pages of tree bark, the
Samhita (Compilation) is said to contain five million horoscopes
comprising all who have lived in the past or will live in the future.
The first named authors writing treatises on astronomy are from the
5th century AD, the date when the classical period of Indian astronomy
can be said to begin. Besides the theories of
Main article: Chinese astrology An oracle bone – turtle shell
Chinese astrology has a close relation with Chinese philosophy
(theory of the three harmony, heaven, earth and water) and uses the
principles of yin and yang and concepts that are not found in Western
astrology, such as the wu xing teachings, the 10
Celestial stems , the
The calendars of Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica are based upon a system which had been in common use throughout the region, dating back to at least the 6th century BC. The earliest calendars were employed by peoples such as the Zapotecs and Olmecs , and later by such peoples as the Maya , Mixtec and Aztecs . Although the Mesoamerican calendar did not originate with the Maya, their subsequent extensions and refinements to it were the most sophisticated. Along with those of the Aztecs, the Maya calendars are the best-documented and most completely understood.
The distinctive Mayan calendar used two main systems, one plotting
the solar year of 360 days, which governed the planting of crops and
other domestic matters; the other called the
Tzolkin of 260 days,
which governed ritual use. Each was linked to an elaborate
astrological system to cover every facet of life. On the fifth day
after the birth of a boy, the Mayan astrologer-priests would cast his
horoscope to see what his profession was to be: soldier, priest, civil
servant or sacrificial victim. A 584-day
Aztec calendar shares the same basic structure as the Mayan
calendar, with two main cycles of 360 days and 260 days. The 260-day
calendar was called
* ^ Koch-Westenholz (1995) Foreword and p.11.
* ^ Kassell and Ralley (2010) ‘Stars, spirits, signs: towards a
history of astrology 1100–1800'; pp.67–69.
* ^ Campion (2009) pp.259–263, for the popularizing influence of
newspaper astrology; pp. 239–249: for association with New Age
* ^ Campion (2008) pp.1-3.
* ^ Marshack (1972) p.81ff.
* ^ Hesiod (c. 8th century BC) . Hesiod’s poem _Works and Days_
demonstrates how the heliacal rising and setting of constellations
were used as a calendrical guide to agricultural events, from which
were drawn mundane astrological predictions, _e.g._: “Fifty days
after the solstice, when the season of wearisome heat is come to an
end, is the right time to go sailing. Then you will not wreck your
ship, nor will the sea destroy the sailors, unless Poseidon the
Earth-Shaker be set upon it, or Zeus, the king of the deathless
gods” (II. 663-677).
* ^ Kelley and Milone (2005) p.268.
* ^ Two texts which refer to the 'omens of Sargon' are reported in
E. F. Weidner, ‘Historiches Material in der Babyonischen
Omina-Literatur’ _Altorientalische Studien_, ed. Bruno Meissner,
(Leipzig, 1928-9), v. 231 and 236.
* ^ From scroll A of the ruler Gudea of Lagash, I 17 – VI 13. O.
Kaiser, _Texte aus der Umwelt des Alten Testaments_, Bd. 2, 1-3.
Gütersloh, 1986-1991. Also quoted in A. Falkenstein, ‘Wahrsagung in
der sumerischen Überlieferung’, _La divination en Mésopotamie
ancienne et dans les régions voisines_. Paris, 1966.
* ^ Rochberg-Halton, F. (1988). "Elements of the Babylonian
Hellenistic Astrology". _Journal of the American
Oriental Society_. 108 (1): 51–62.
JSTOR 603245 . doi
* ^ Holden (1996) p.1.
* ^ Rochberg (1998) p.ix. See also, Neugebauer (1969) pp.29-30.
* ^ Rochberg (1998) p.x.
* ^ Baigent (1994) p.71.
* ^ Holden (1996) p.9.
* ^ Koch-Westenholz (1995) p.16.
* ^ Koch-Westenholz (1995) p.11.
* ^ Koch-Westenholz (1995) p.12. Tablet source given as: _State
Archives of Assyria_ 8 250.
* ^ Koch-Westenholz (1995) p.13.
* ^ Koch-Westenholz (1995) p.19.
* ^ Michael Baigent (1994). _From the Omens of Babylon: Astrology
and Ancient Mesopotamia_. Arkana.
* ^ Michael Baigent,
Nicholas Campion and Charles Harvey (1984).
_Mundane astrology_. Thorsons.
* ^ Steven Vanden Broecke (2003). _The limits of influence: Pico,
Louvain, and the crisis of
* Al Biruni (11th century), _The Chronology of Ancient Nations_; tr.
C. E. Sachau. London: W.H Allen revised edition. Cambridge: Harvard
Press, 1964. ISBN 978-0-674-99063-0 .
* Kelley, David, H. and Milone, E.F., 2005. _Exploring ancient
skies: an encyclopedic survey of archaeoastronomy_. Heidelberg / New
York: Springer. ISBN 978-0-387-95310-6 .
* Holden, James Herschel, 1996. _A History of Horoscopic Astrology_.
AFA. ISBN 978-0-86690-463-6 .
* Houlding, Deborah, 2010. _Essays on the history of western
astrology_. Nottingham: STA.
* Koch-Westenholz, Ulla, 1995. _Mesopotamian astrology_. Volume 19
of CNI publications. Museum Tusculanum Press. ISBN 978-87-7289-287-0 .
* Marshack, Alexander, 1972. _The roots of civilisation: the
cognitive beginnings of man's first art, symbol and notation_. London:
Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 978-1-55921-041-6 .
* Parker, Derek and Julia, 1983. _A history of astrology_. Deutsch.
ISBN 978-0-233-97576-4 .
* Pingree, David Edwin, 1997. _From astral omens to astrology: from
_ This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Astrology". Encyclopædia Britannica _. 2 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 795–800.
* Nicholas Campion, _A History of Western Astrology_ Vol. 2, The
Medieval and Modern Worlds, Continuum 2009. ISBN 978-1-84725-224-1 .
* Nicholas Campion, _The Great Year: Astrology, Millenarianism, and
History in the Western Tradition_. Penguin, 1995. ISBN 0-14-019296-4 .
* A. Geneva, _